Renewing my own enthusiasm – by design

Confession. It’s been nine months since my last blog entry. And before I get to a recipe I’ve found for getting awesomeness back, there’s a bit of a back story. Last fall, I worked to heal a minor tweak in my back, and it took some time to get my rock climbing mojo back. At the same time, a big work project consumed most of my creative juices.

Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park

Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park

In April, I got my climbing groove back on in Joshua Tree National Park, thanks to Matt Walker and Inner Passage. That story will soon become a back story blog entry. In June, I had a surprise ambush date to Munich, courtesy of the Best Boyfriend in the World. That also deserves a back story blog entry – it’s a totally fun story to tell! All of the awesomeness couldn’t compete with this nagging problem – I had neglected my passion project. I had given into resistance, I was losing the inspiration I had received last summer from the Management Innovation Exchange and World Domination Summit. Heck, I felt like I was even letting Kid President down after he gave us all such a wonderful Pep Talk. I had yet to advance my plans to make the world more awesome, and the resulting lack of personal integrity meant enthusiasm gained in Joshua Tree and Munich had a slow, persistent leak.

Luckily, the universe does conspire. Continue reading

What to do when enthusiasm leaks out a torn back muscle…

When I came up with the framework for What Makes You Come Alive, I was looking forward to an autumn filled with rock climbing and connecting with old friends. And then…my back, which had been sore for the entire summer, got worse. I stopped climbing, and tried a light jog. Only to wake up the next morning with sharp jabbing back pain as I tried to put on my pants. The diagnosis – a torn muscle. Not horrible or completely debilitating. But I’m out of rock climbing for six weeks, my three-day weekend road-trip became impossible, and work started picking up. Without my outlet for creative mind-body expression, without my social circle of friends from climbing, with pain in my back, with fatigue from several busy work-weeks in a row, I feel old and tired. Not alive. But cranky.

I found a kindred spirit in innovation writer Scott Berkun, when he wrote about what he learned from losing a leg (for a while), while recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon:

My mind follows my body. I’m a productive writer because I have a healthy body. I go to the gym nearly every day to clear my mind and let my subconscious work on problems for me. I haven’t been to the gym in almost a month. I’m still struggling to find a new way to balance stress and find physical relaxation.

Mind-map focusing in on the mind-body connection of the "what makes you come alive" framework

Mine is broken. This connection is broken.

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What makes you come alive?

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, posted a question on Facebook this weekend “Agree or disagree? ‘September is the other January.'” Having spent Labor Day weekend in somewhat of a sabbatical mode, I couldn’t agree more. Even though summer doesn’t technically end until the autumnal equinox on September 22nd, I’ve prepared myself for the start of a new season by saying goodbye to the summer ales and sundresses, cleaning house, assessing old projects, and teeing up some new ones. With the year being 2/3 over, it brings me back to the question asked in January in the post New Year’s Day; Renewable Enthusiasm Day: Are you living? Or are you merely growing old? How are you doing so far with that whole “living” thing?

What is really living, anyway? What makes you come alive? What if someone, (oh…say, me?) challenged you to choose your own adventure to find out exactly that?

I loved those Choose Your Own Adventure books. Growing up, my girlfriend and I would act out these adventures across the large farm where her dad lived and worked.

Choose Your Own Adventure #16 - Secret of the Ninja

Adventure was easy as a kid

Adventure was easy as a kid…

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Nurturing a mountain

Bear Butte Mountain - Southern View

A view of Bear Butte from the south. It gets its name from its resemblance to the form of a slumbering bear.

In early July, I visited my Mom and step-dad in South Dakota, where they spent this summer volunteering at Bear Butte State Park. Bear Butte and its staff left quite an impression on me.

As someone who has been pondering passion – how to find, follow, live, and sustain it – I came away from Bear Butte with the understanding that following a passion and sustaining it is difficult, sweaty, hard physical work mixed in with a lot of emotional labor. Most importantly, the staff at Bear Butte are not the ones calling what they do “following their passion,” or pontificating about whether or not they’re living the passionate life, whether or not they’ve found the thing they’re on this earth to do. More often than not, there are people out there, like the staff at Bear Butte State park, just doing the hard work under less than optimal circumstances, because the works needs to be done. Continue reading

How do we dominate the world?

In the past month, I attended two conferences that have had a profound effect on me – so much so that I’ve spent reams of paper mind mapping my notes, trying to make sense of the shift that’s happening in my brain, in my psyche, my outlook. At the MIXMashup In San Francisco at the end of June, I heard Gary Hamel tell us that the 100 year old technology that is management is broken and we haven’t either been aspirational enough or angry enough to fix it. I have often bemoaned that organizations “suck the life blood out of you,” and here is a group of people saying, “nope – it doesn’t have to be that way, and we’ll show you how.” Their case studies are written up here: http://www.managementexchange.com/.

In Portland at the beginning of July, I attended the World Domination Summit, organized by Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity and the $100 Start-up, who asked the 1000 attendees, “How do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?” One way is to become a micro-entrepreneur. Pamela Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation, said that what the entrepreneurs in Chris’s $100 Startup book had in common was that they have something great to offer to others, they have a website that depicts this clearly, they have a means of accepting payment, they believe in themselves, and they’re not waiting for anyone to fix our economic problems….or, I’ll add, our organizations. Continue reading

“Mindfulness – the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves…”

“Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves…it can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

At the beginning of the year, I began to explore the topic of resistance. And since I found a name for this little gremlin, it’s been fairly relentless in its efforts to muck up my mojo and creativity, despite my attempts to go with the flow. I’ve embarked upon a number of creative pursuits, such as my improv theater class. I thought that practicing saying “yes…!” to scenes for eight weeks would help root out resistance. It worked. For a bit. Then class was over….and the many blog entries in my head about the experience failed to write themselves. Continue reading

Renewing the enthusiasm of our organizations

Our organizations – private sector, academia, non-profits, public sector – are in trouble. Tomorrow, I will attend a conference that’s dedicated to rewriting the design rules of the organization, with the goal of creating:

…organizations that are resilient enough to change as fast as the world is changing, inventive enough to imagine a whole new way to create value, inspiring enough to invite the full passion, imagination, and initiative of the broadest mix of people, and mindful enough to find a way to win without others having to lose.

It’s exciting stuff. I’m interested in finding, following, living, and sustain my passion. It’s a topic that’s confoundingly easy to learn about and often difficult to execute given the state of the world. To find a group of people dedicated to making organizations a welcoming place for passion and imagination? I must be dreaming. But before I tell you about the MixMashup in San Francisco, a back story.

MixMashup

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